Chelsea target hails James as his ‘toughest’ opponent as Spurs ‘enter race’ to sign £100m man

Tottenham have reportedly entered the race to sign AC Milan’s Rafael Leao, who has said Chelsea right-back Reece James is the “toughest” opponent he has faced.

Leao has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in recent months with his Milan contract expiring in 2024.

He is believed to have a release clause worth around £100million and the Italian champions are reluctant to let him leave for anything less.

The Portuguese winger played at Stamford Bridge during the week, taking on his potential future employers for the first time in his career.

It was a night to forget for him and his team, with the Rossoneri losing 3-0 against Graham Potter’s side.

Leao showed glimpses of why he is valued at around £100m but was unable to find the back of the net.

He will likely have a chip on his shoulder for his side’s next match in the Champions League, with Milan set to host the Blues next week.

The 11-cap Portugal star was high in praise of Blues defender James, who kept a clean sheet and got his name on the scoresheet.

There has been plenty of talk surrounding the England international this week, with his Chelsea teammate Trevoh Chalobah saying he “could be” the best right-back in the world.

And Leao has said James might be the “toughest” player he has faced so far in his career.

“James is a good player, he was all over me and everywhere at the same time, he timed his runs very fine,” he told somtosport.

“I hardly talk about opposing players but this guy is actually the toughest I have faced I think.

“He scored a goal too against us and that’s something you don’t get from every defender.

“We just have to focus and finish in a good position now because the competition was never expected to be easy.

“We slipped and we won’t let that hold us back, we will work harder for the next games.”

Chelsea are believed to be leading the race to sign Leao, but it has been reported that Tottenham are now in the mix.

This is according to Italian journalist Fabio Cordella.

Cordella was speaking about the player’s situation on Twitch this week.

He said: “Milan does not have the means and does not want to have the means to match the demands of the entourage.

“Not having grown up in the Rossoneri and not being attached to the colours, if rich salary offers arrive from abroad it is difficult to keep him.

“Leao will only renew on his terms, not those of the club. He asks for more than seven million.”

Cordella explained that Leao has already received offers from elsewhere.

“There are companies that have even offered him 10 million a year,” he added.

“Saying Chelsea is not nonsense, but there are other English clubs as well. Tottenham is among them.

“In my opinion, far from the lights of San Siro he would not be the same Leao of Milan, but just a phenomenon among many.

“It is not taken for granted that he will go to Manchester City or that City will then win the Champions League.”

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